The Legal Counsel to STOAN, Mr Femi Atoyebi (SAN), said this in a statement made available to newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.
Atoyebi said that the association was only concerned that regulation should be done by the appropriate government agency within the ambit of the law and in line with the port concession agreement signed between government and terminal operators.
The senior advocate described as “untrue’’, a recent online publication which claimed that terminal operators were suing the Federal Government to stop it from regulating activities at the seaports.
He said, “The basis of the action by the Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria is that under their separate Concession Agreements with the Federal Government, only the Nigerian Ports Authority is recognised as the port regulator.’’
Atoyebi said he was referring to agreements signed on government’s behalf by NPA and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).
“If that has to change, both the law creating the NPA and the concession agreements will have to be amended.
The legal practitioner said that for NPA, the constitutional process of amending the Act has to be followed, adding that that of the concession agreement could not be done without the concurrence of STOAN
According to Atoyebi, it is important to stress that the offensive instruments in respect of which the court action was taken was not issued by the current government but by the past administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan.
He said that the petition of STOAN before the court “is that any purported appointment of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council by those instruments is unknown to our law and clearly a usurpation of the sacred powers of our legislative houses – the Senate and the House of Representatives.’’
Atoyebi said that it was the duty of the National Assembly to make laws under the nation’s Constitution, “ adding that to that extent, the said Order and Regulation are null and void and of no effect whatsoever.’’
“This is now before the court and we cannot make any further comments thereon,’’ the senior advocate said.
He condemned the report of an online publication on the STOAN’s court action, saying that the report that the terminal operators did not want to be regulated by government was incorrect.
According to him, the gravamen of their (STOAN) complaint is that the operators are asserting that they are regulated by NPA, another agency of government and not the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, as provided under the concession agreements and the extant laws.
Atoyebi said that an earlier order by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos in a suit instituted by the terminal operators had become a subject of appeal.
The Federal Government on Feb 20, 2015, appointed Shippers’ Council as the Port Economic Regulator. (NAN)